Changing Lives Through Medical-Legal Partnerships

/ Blog Post

Photo of Maureen van Stone
Photo of Maureen van Stone

When Fellow Maureen van Stone began Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law) in collaboration with her host organization, Kennedy Krieger Institute, she had no idea that nearly fifteen years later it would become one of the most successful and long-lasting medical-legal partnerships in the country.

Maureen did, however, know one thing: she was going to build a lasting career in public service. “I want[ed] to make a significant contribution in my field and I want[ed] to be a positive role model to the students I mentor and my children,” she says. Her Equal Justice Works Fellowship provided her the opportunity to pursue her passions through Project HEAL.

A nonprofit program under Kennedy Krieger’s Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD), Project HEAL provides advocacy and legal services for low and moderate income families raising children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Project HEAL’s attorneys help children who receive services at Kennedy Krieger obtain appropriate special education and related services through local school systems, as well as advocate on their behalf.

After her Fellowship, Maureen knew that she had her work cut out for her. “While I am thrilled with the tremendous impact MCDD has had in Maryland, there is significant work to be done to enhance the delivery of services and supports to individuals with disabilities in Maryland,” she says. Currently, Project HEAL is the only medical-legal partnership in the state.

For more than nine years, Maureen served as the associate director of the MCDD, as well as the director of Project HEAL. In these roles she engaged in statewide policy and legislative advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Through Project HEAL, she also represented children with disabilities in civil legal disputes, primarily on special education matters.

In January 2019, Maureen was appointed director of the MCDD, and she maintains that her Equal Justice Works Fellowship still impacts her work. “Equal Justice Works is the backbone of the work I do today. I still have my initial proposal (and I sometimes review it). Project HEAL still engages in every aspect of the work that I proposed doing over 15 years ago,” she says.

In her new position, Maureen—unsurprisingly—has big plans: “As the director of the MCDD, I hope to increase both internal and external partnerships, as well as enhance the quality of life of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.”

At Equal Justice Works, we are immensely proud of Maureen and value her contributions to improving access to justice through Project HEAL. Take a look at how other Fellow alums are continuing to serve their communities.

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow